A hearty welcome to our readers from the one reviewer on this blog who did not attend this year's ACPT in Stamford, CT. Thanks to our hearty reviewers for their excellent reportage. There's always next year!
I decided this year to compete online. What this means, it turns out, is that the puzzles become available after all the competitors at the live event have completed it. This makes a ton of sense: you could imagine unscrupulous crossword enthusiasts getting illicit sneak peaks at the grids they're about to complete under the pressure of the big red digital clocks. We don't need any Rosie Ruiz moments at the ACPT, do we?
I enjoyed the puzzles for the competition very much, and I feel I would have done well, but an error I made on puzzle one I can't put down to keyboard mistakes or lack of comfort with the online crossword application, so I would not have been competing for the crown, certainly.
But on to today's NYT puzzle. Here we have well known phrases where one of the words is a homophone for a letter of the English alphabet. This letter is then replaced with its corresponding word from the NATO / PHONETICALPHABET, and the phrase is reclued with wacky results.
All six examples work well, especially 33A: * Annoying member of a New York baseball team? (YANKEEBOTHER). I mean, it really applies to all of them, doesn't it? I also like "beesting" being reinterpreted as BRAVOSTING, and BOSTONTANGOPARTY is quite amusing.
Overall, I found this puzzle NOTBAD and not TOOEASY either. I liked 88D: One fighting an uphill battle? (SISYPHUS), because who doesn't enjoy a Greek myth now and again? The symmetric answer in the grid is PROSPERO, from one of my top three Shakespeare plays, The Tempest. Another great clue comes at 19A: One who didn't even show? (ALSORAN). Excellent stuff.
Anyway, we were one letter short of Horace at 12D: Greek goddesses of the seasons (HORAE), and it's his birthday coming up. So all is right with the world, at least in the NYT Crossword world.